You may not find this post full of new ideas. Honestly, it's not meant to be 10 steps to finding better paying clients. It's meant to make you stop and think about what you are doing now with the clients that you currently work with that may not be your ideal target market.
Have you ever heard "Nice Guys Finish Last?" There is nothing wrong with giving back and you should. However, if you are trying to make a living with your photography and buy new gear, you cannot give, give, give without generating enough revenue to accomplish your financial goals. You have to have an income to survive and to buy near gear. So doing projects on the cheap without changing direction is going to continue to send you down the path of being stuck with low paying clients that may not help you achieve even the most basic financial goals.
Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is INSANE. Sorry, but it really is. You have to change if you want to get to a level beyond where you are currently at.
So how do you really get better paying clients? You TARGET them! That's how!
Low paying clients will likely continue to refer low paying clients. In order to get higher paying clients you must swim in the same waters they swim in. What? Well, that means finding out where they are and getting in front of them. That could mean a Chamber meeting, cold calling, LinkedIn, Direct Mail, etc. etc. You have to figure out who the higher paying clients are and get in front of them.
Your portfolio should also reflect a higher price point in order to cater to a higher price point target market. If you do give away your photography and/or video services for peanuts, make sure it's a win-win for both you and the client. In other words, you are looking at the bigger picture of how you can use the project to work with higher paying clients.
Do one gig FREE and use it too your advantage! Yes, I'm serious!
If you want to get higher paying clients one marketing technique is to approach someone in that category and shoot for free.
Here are three examples of making a change that are not all about shooting for free:
1) All your current clients are pictured in front of a tiny house and they consistently pay you $99 a pop for family portraits. Hey, there's nothing wrong with that, but you want $$499 a pop clients for the same amount of work. So you photograph a family in front of a very large nice home and do a great job of the photography. Part of your trade off is that they let you use the images for your marketing. If not, find a family that will. If you want to photograph families in front of large houses, you cannot keep taking pictures of families in front of small houses. Remember, there will always be someone just starting out or charging next to nothing for their services to help those families out. ALWAYS!!! Don't get me wrong, give back, help people out, but don't always work for peanuts.
2) You currently shoot a lot of small events for $50 an hour, but would like to double that rate to a minimum of $100 an hour. In this case, it may be just a matter of holding your head high and saying my rate is $100 an hour for events. Sorry, I cannot do it for $50 an hour. Thanks Anyway! Hey, but I know someone just starting out that will do it for $50 an hour. That statement can also help put things in perspective for the person looking at the hourly rate.
3) You currently do photography and/or video (even more time consuming with editing) for wannabee singers/musicians. They are broke, so they expect you to work for peanuts until they make it big. FYI, if and when they make it big, do you really think their agent is going to let them come back to you. Think about it! Hey, but you like shooting this stuff and you are good at it. Well, at some point, you have to stop the low price madness:
Here's my portfolio. Here's my rate. I'll need my quoted rate or you'll have to find someone else because I'm not working for peanuts. The other nicer option is to just NOT play with the wannabees and seek out those who are more established. There will always be someone trying to build their portfolio and even shoot for free. So if you cannot pay for new gear without going in debt and you cannot put food on your table and keep the lights on, you have to move on, change direction and stop being a nice guy (to a point).
There is nothing wrong with making a comfortable living doing what you love doing. If you are not making a comfortable living and buy all of your gear on credit, they change direction. But you have to do that. I cannot do it for you. Make up your mind to change and then actually change.
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